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Baseball Equipment Drive exceeds expectations

Royals Charities asked for fans to dig up their old sports equipment or make a quick run to a nearby sporting good retailer all for the good of the third annual Royals Charities Baseball Equipment Drive.

And, as always, the fans responded in a big way.

On Monday, April 23, prior to the Royals game against the White Sox, Royals Charities volunteers joined the Royals Wives at the entrance gates to Kauffman Stadium to collect new and gently used baseball and softball equipment for Della Lamb Youth Services, a local program that reaches more than 1,000 area youth from low-income Kansas City families.

Initially, Royals Charities set a goal of collecting at least 600 items. When the final numbers came back, the drive not only reached its goal, but exceeded expectations with 711 collected items for Della Lamb Youth Services.

"We could not be happier with the turnout we had this year," said Betty Kaegel, Director of Royals Charities. "To collect that many items is wonderful and will help us to reach our main objective, which is always to encourage children to not only play baseball, but to also enjoy playing baseball."

The items collected ranged from all types of baseball and softball equipment, including gloves, baseballs, bases, batting tees, bats, batting helmets, shoes and uniforms.

Consistent to past baseball equipment drives at Kauffman Stadium, Royals Charities teamed up with the Baseball Tomorrow Fund. Along with aiding in the drive, the Baseball Tomorrow Fund also donated a $5,000 grant to Della Lamb Youth Services. The check presentation took place on the field at Kauffman Stadium prior to the Royals game against the Minnesota Twins on Friday, April 20.

Following the drive, DHL, which supported the baseball equipment drive by providing two DHL vehicles for the event, delivered the collected equipment to the Della Lamb offices.

Last year, the Royals, who were one of 25 Major League Baseball clubs to host a baseball equipment drive, collected nearly 500 pieces of baseball equipment. With the support of the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, the participating clubs collected a combined 11,050 items and $39,834 during the baseball equipment drive initiative. The total numbers for all the Major League Baseball teams' equipment drives from this season have not been tallied yet.

"The goal of the equipment day initiative is to bring the game to those children who may not have the opportunity to play because of lack of equipment," said Cathy Bradley, Executive Director of the Baseball Tomorrow Fund. "All contributions, both large and small, can make a significant different in the lives of these youth."

The Baseball Tomorrow Fund is designed to promote and enhance the growth of baseball throughout the world by funding programs, field improvements and equipment purchases all in an effort to encourage and maintain youth participation in baseball and softball. Since its inception in 1999, the Baseball Tomorrow Fund has awarded grants totaling more than $9 million and benefiting more than 100,000 youth.

The Baseball Equipment Drive is one of four drives Royals Charities and the Royals Wives will host at Kauffman Stadium this season. The Royals Wives Food Drive, celebrating its 25th anniversary, is on May 25, the Royals Charities Back to School Drive is set for Aug. 8, and the Royals Charities Coat Drive will be Sept. 28.

Royals Charities volunteers and Royals Wives collected 711 items for the 2007 Royals Charities Baseball Equipment Drive, held April 23 at Kauffman Stadium. (Kansas City Royals)

Royals Wives Brooke Buck and Julie Gobble joined Royals Charities director Betty Kaegel and volunteers from Della Lamb and DHL to collect items for the Equipment Drive. Other Royals Wives who participated included Missy Riske, Martha De La Rosa and Laurie Elarton. (Kansas City Royals)